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Blood on the Hands


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To the editors:

Chuck Fager's review [June 23] of the Collier and Horowitz work, Destructive Generation seems to me to be at best a misreading and at worst a self-serving distortion of the book.

Fager reduces the broad indictment presented by C & H of the foundations, development and demise of the liberal left movement of the 60's and early 70's, to a self-centered, petulant, guilt-ridden apologia by ambitious, superficial strivers who were not really involved in the mainstream of liberal leftist thought.

C & H actually paint a vivid picture of the growth of the Left in the 60's from a movement that wanted a radical American revolution and rejected foreign and traditional Marxist ideology to the current movement which since the late 60's has slavishly parroted the Soviet line and with the collapse of communist ideology in the Soviet, Eastern European and Chinese societies has now fixed on the third world countries as the source of their inspiration for a Marxist world.

The most colorful passages are clearly those which paint a picture of the Black Panthers as manipulators of radical sympathizers, the Weathermen as deluded revolutionaries and Collier and Horowitz themselves as children of a Marxist family in one case and a classic American migrant worker in the other.

While the entire Liberal left movement cannot be characterized as a totally Communist ideology, certainly the basic Marxist Leninist tenets can be seen running through the major elements of the movement. C & H illustrate the fact that for many leftist historians, sociologists and philosophers, the body of Marxist Leninist Socialist and Communist ideology is a clear and logical successor of the various historical societal developments from Tribalism to Feudalism to Capitalism. C & H point out that those who see the various leftist ideologies as the wave of the future are not inclined to see any contradictions such as the Stalinist murderous purges, Mao's attempt to destroy Chinese society and Pol Pot's act of pure genocide.

Fager, however, seems uninterested in the major themes of Destructive Generation, but instead wants to discredit their analysis by implying that C & H were guilty of knowing that the Black Panthers would murder Betty Van Patter, that they attributed to Fay Stender, the murdered Black Panther lawyer, something more than a camp-follower's mentality, that C & H could not have been committed leftists because they didn't flee to Canada or submit to the draft and finally that they had the nerve to draw parallels between their disillusionment and that of Whittaker Chambers. Somehow this doesn't seem to be a critical engagement of the issues raised by C & H and instead raises the question as to who are the ones who are "guilt ridden" and who has "blood on their hands."

Jerry Weitzel

N. Sheridan

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